Silver Lake – The citizens have put in their requests, now careful planning and balance is needed.

SilverLakePicThe last public master planning meeting was held on October 27, 2009.  Many citizens came out to both the October 6 and October 27 meetings to share their views about recreation activities at Silver Lake, others posted comments online.

Now the Park Authority has a major challenge.  They need to consider what residents want and carefully plan future recreation uses accordingly while ensuring that the natural beauty and conservation qualities at this special site are protected.

Residents have expressed interest in a wide range of both passive and active recreation uses for Silver Lake Park. Trails for hiking and horseback riding are popular suggestions, including support for connecting these to other nearby parkland. Other people have called for more intensive uses, such as a 60-acre shooting range, indoor equestrian arena, dressage area, outside jumping area and equestrian camping.

To date, community requests for recreation facilities include:

  • Scuba diving in the quarry
  • Disc Golf
  • Bank fishing around the whole lake
  • Primitive Camping
  • Camping with pop up campers and tents
  • Habitat Demonstration Garden
  • Wildflower Garden
  • Outdoor shooting range taking approximately 60 acres
  • Canoe/Kayak put in
  • Public Equestrian Facilities including an indoor arena, dressage arena and outside jumping course
  • Equestrian camping
  • Horse swimming in area below the dam
  • Handicapped accessible playground area
  • Playground area near picnic area
  • Swimming in the lake and in the quarry
  • Dog Park
  • Picnic Pavilions

Several people also stated that they wanted the park to remain rustic and natural as it is now.  No motorized boats or other noisy toys.

Not all these recreation uses will be possible at Silver Lake Park. For example, while there is considerable interest in opening up the entire lake to bank fishing, portions of this area are covered with wetlands that must be protected. However, there may be other ways for the  Park Authority to accommodate this request, such as construction of a floating fishing pier.

Other recreation requests don’t match the passive recreation focus promised by the BOCS when they transferred Silver Lake to the Park Authority. Allowing a shooting range would destroy the peace and quiet, and drive away wildlife. Building picnic pavilions on cement slabs would detract from the rustic natural beauty of the park.

Some of the requests for equestrian facilities involve intensive development and conflict with the passive recreation goals. For years the County’s horse community has called for development of a facility  similar to Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County. While the County should act to address these needs, the intense development these uses require conflicts with the passive recreation goals set for Silver Lake.

Other more appropriate sites, such as the Wiita tract, where there are no restrictions on recreation uses, are available for this type of active recreation. Equestrian facilities should be a primary focus when planning uses on parkland where location and site conditions support the development of active recreation, not at Silver Lake where intensely developed active recreation facilities would overwhelm passive recreation uses.

The Park Authority has a jewel in Silver Lake. There are rare plant communities that should be preserved, as well as early late succession and mid-succession forests. It contains diverse habitat types with a wide variety of native plants, insects, birds and a good diversity of land mammal species.

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1 comment so far

  1. helbergsa on

    I have one comment: Ludicrous

    Why would an equestrian facility not be welcome along a major trail corridor in Prince William County, and be recommended in an isolated park in another part of the county?

    Please provide a reasonable answer.

    I am also still wondering why PWCA operated Merrimac Farms is not open to the enjoyment of the natural recreation enjoyment of the equestrian. Why does the PWCA discriminate as such against an animal that still roams free on many lands of this fine earth?


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